A study carried out at the Cambridge University has attracted the ire of various anti-drug groups after it was revealed that students were paid £250 in order to be injected with ketamine, which is a horse tranquilizer.
The study, known as Exploring The Impact Of Ketamine On The Experience Of Illusory Body Ownership, was conducted by Prof Paul Fletcher and PhD student Hannah Morgan as part of their efforts to investigate possible treatments for schizophrenia.
Fifteen students took part in the study and were injected with increasing doses of ketamine, which is a class C drug when converted from its liquid form. Ketamine was used since it produces a hallucinatory effect similar to those suffering from schizophrenia in which people believe that external objects are part of their body.
While the study, which was submitted to Biological Psychiatry in March, has been condemned by many, the two researchers have released a statement saying that they took a number of precautions before selecting the students.
"All participants undergo intensive screening beforehand, in terms of their history of physical or mental illness and of past drug abuse. We would not do this work if we considered that there was an unacceptable risk to participants", the statement said.